Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

An App That Makes Supporting Pro-Union Goods and Services Easier

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

The internet has made it easier than ever to find goods and services. But this unprecedented access to options also means that we as consumers must do more research if we want to buy or use services that are ethical.  

An important way in which we could all become more ethical consumers is buying union-made products and using pro-union services. The thing is it’s not always clear what goods or services support good-paying, union jobs.

Finding ways to support good jobs has now become much easier with Labor 411’s new app.

For over a decade, Labor 411 has been “supporting businesses that treat their employees well with fair pay, good benefits and safe working conditions” by highlighting them in their online and print directories. With these valuable resources, Labor 411 connects ethical businesses with conscious consumers. The app now makes their renowned online directories easily accessible in the palm of your hand.

In a statement announcing the app, Labor 411 founder and President Cherri Senders said:

“Labor 411 has always maintained that making smart, ethical choices every time you open your wallet is easy. The 411 App makes the process that much easier.”

With over 11,000 listings, Labor 411 points you in the right direction for everything from restaurants and hotels to gifts and clothes. Although their app focuses on the nation’s largest consumer markets, you can find plenty of businesses that offer good and services nationally.

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Yet Another Sign Tariffs Are Working

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, AAM

The United States produces a lot of aluminum scrap each year – the most in the world, actually. But, thanks to Chinese tariffs on American aluminum imports, most of that scrap has had nowhere to go (China is a huge aluminum scrap market.). Thus, it‘s now fulfilling considerable domestic demand for aluminum, which means most aluminum products purchased in the States in 2018 weren’t made anew but composed of recycled metal.

With that said, America's own Section 232 tariffs on aluminum are having their desired effect: more aluminum production in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"The Trump administration’s tariffs on foreign aluminum drove imports of the metal down 20% last year, Harbor Aluminum says, while domestic production rose 20%. Pushing up U.S. aluminum production was the tariff’s intent."

A December 2018 study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) corroborates this growth, evidencing a projected 67 percent increase of U.S. primary aluminum production between 2017 and 2018. EPI also cites several smelters that have been restarted or expanded and will create over 1,000 new jobs.

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HGTV’s Home Town Stars Commit to Revitalizing America’s Small Towns and Manufacturing

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

Today’s a big day for Ben and Erin Napier to say the least! Season Three of their hit show, Home Town, premieres tonight at 9 p.m. EST and their Made in USA furniture lines, Laurel Mercantile Co. Home and Scotsman Co. American Heirloom, debut in over one hundred stores this month! 

Though their show centers on refurbishing the homes of Laurel, Miss., the Napiers’ home town, their mission extends well beyond the town limits. As the Napiers state at the start of every Home Town episode, they’re committed to inspiring the revitalization of small towns all across the country. In the couple’s efforts to inspire investment in America’s small towns, they’ve embraced the American manufacturing industries that have sustained these locations.

 “We recognize that our show is about revitalizing small-town America, Laurel, and without small-town industry, mainly American manufacturing, you don’t have small-town America,” Ben Napier said.

Though approached by an endless stream of companies seeking branding and licensing deals with the husband-and-wife duo, the Napiers have chosen to partner with the legendary Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. -- a name that’s already earned a lot of attention in its own right, having been profiled in Beth Macy’s Factory Man.

Rather than join the herd of retailers manufacturing furniture offshore, the Napiers manufactured their furniture, Laurel Mercantile Co. Home and Scotsman Co. American Heirloom, in Vaughan-Bassett’s legendary Galax, Va., factories.

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‘Quality for All.’ Ethics When Forced?

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

North Carolina-based Badger Sportswear, whose athletic apparel can be found on college athletes and sports fans nationwide, no longer sources its goods from a clothing manufacturer that uses forced labor in Chinese internment camps that hold members of religious and ethnic minority groups.

We’re relieved to hear that Badger is finally ending its contract with the manufacturer, Hetian Taida Apparel, and hope that it will commit to ethical manufacturing by moving its production to the U.S. There are plenty of Made in USA companies ready to meet their needs. By moving its sourcing to the U.S., Badger would create jobs in communities that have long suffered from the outsourcing of America’s textile industry.

Despite Badger doing the right thing by no longer benefitting from Hetian Taida’s appalling labor practices, the company's decision seems a tad bit forced: It insists that Hetian Taida did not participate in forced labor.

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Bipartisan Bill Supports Stronger Intellectual Property Theft Protections

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

U.S.-China trade negotiations in Beijing seem to be pretty genial so far, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He’s unexpected attendance suggests that the discussions have considerable import.

However, as positive as these talks appear to be, the threats posed by Chinese efforts to steal intellectual property and undermine American industry loom large.  

Back in Washington, senators on both sides of the aisle are sounding the alarm that these threats cannot be neglected during trade talks for the sake of a quick deal.

Growing fear that China and other foreign nations continue to participate in or facilitate intellectual property (IP) theft has inspired the introduction of a bipartisan bill aiming to combat these national security threats.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Jan. 4, would establish a federal office, the White House Office of Critical Technologies and Security, to develop a national strategy combatting state-sponsored threats to U.S. technology. The office would work in coordination with private and public partners.

A strong response to these attacks on U.S. intellectual property and businesses is certainly needed.

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What’s Going On With GM?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

In 2017, Congressional Republicans passed and President Trump signed what the Washington Post described as “the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years.”

 
Paul Ryan@SpeakerRyan
 

When I was chair of @HouseBudgetGOP, we began to change the debate with the Roadmap for America’s Future. Now, all these years later, those early ideas of tax reform have become law and hundreds of millions of Americans are better for it.

Less than a year later, a flagship American corporation, General Motors -- proud recipent of approximately $50 billion in federal assistance after the Great Recession -- took its reduced corporate tax rate and announced plant closures in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Lots of layoffs. If only we had seen it coming! 

 
NowThis@nowthisnews
 

This tax expert warned Congress that the GOP tax bill could lead to outsourcing. GM just announced more than 14,000 U.S. layoffs

Oh man! Maybe the president should have read that tax bill he signed a little more closely.

Anyway: After GM caught a ton of heat for its downsizing plans it deigned to offer laid-off workers the opportunity to move into other positions at factories elsewhere.

Mary Barra@mtbarra
 

I understand how GM’s recent news is affecting our colleagues, families and communities. Our focus remains on helping employees…

But the United Autoworkers, which represents workers in GM factories, is claiming the company is instead filling those positions with temps. That's a savvy business move by GM; you don’t have to extend to temps benefits like health insurance.

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Woolrich’s American Mill Closure Is a Failure of Made in USA Investment, Not Value

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

Since its founding in 1830, Woolrich mills have made iconic American textiles. Yet, the company has cast aside its Woolrich, Pa., mill and the generations of mill workers that have played an integral role in the brand’s success.

Frustratingly, America’s oldest continuously operating mill that processes raw wool and weaves it for finished textiles closed in December 2018 not due to waning interest in the Made in USA quality and heritage of the Woolrich brand, but because its owners failed to invest in its continued growth despite the company’s success.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, Woolrich increasingly let its heritage mill flounder as it turned to cheaper labor overseas.

Because of this failure to see the value of preserving the artisan traditions established by the mill since its founding in 1845, Woolrich mill workers, many of whose fathers and mothers invested decades of their lives in the mill and whose own lives have been spent working there, are now grappling with uncertain futures.

Despite collaborations with artists like Drake, Woolrich was doomed without the capital to replace its aging equipment, The Wall Street Journal reports.

As the descendants of Woolrich’s founder gradually sold their company stock and control of the business passed from one outside investor to another, hope that the new controlling owners of Woolrich would focus efforts on saving the company’s legacy mill died.

Nonetheless, attempts were made to rescue the mill from demise. John Walsh, a textile entrepreneur who had successfully defended his family’s historic textile mill in Great Britain from the threat of overseas manufacturing, offered to purchase Woolrich’s mill, but the company refused.

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A Reminder of the Disturbing Consequences of Outsourcing

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

Sweatshops aren’t anything new. To save a few bucks, many American textile manufacturers have chosen to move jobs abroad to places with “cheap” labor. In fact, nearly the entire textile industry offshored. Some wanted to be able to get away with paying workers very little and not having to comply with regulations that protect workers.

But some sweatshop workers aren’t even paid. This week, the Associated Press (AP) reportedthat the Chinese government is forcing members of religious and ethnic minority groups into secluded indoctrination camps and then forcing them into factory work. This clearly falls under the U.S. and United Nations definition of slavery. That’s not all: It turns out that North Carolina-based Badger Sportswear, which supplies athletic gear to college campuses across the U.S., was actually sourcing its products from one of these camps.

The company announced it was suspending this arrangment while it conducts an investigation. But this case makes us ask an uncomfortable, but important, question: How many of the imported goods Americans use every day are made by modern-day slaves?

This is a grim reminder of why outsourcing has consequences, both in the U.S. and the places where domestic manufacturers send these jobs. American workers lose their livelihoods and then live through the painful experience of seeing their communities destroyed. Workers abroad are exploited—even enslaved.

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Will GM Weather This Bad Publicity Storm?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

GM has caught a lot of heat in the last few weeks after announcing its plans to shut down five facilities in North America (four in the United States and one in Canada) and shed approximately 14,800 workers. The company claims it’s a restructuring effort to preserve cash and accelerate investment in electric and autonomous vehicles.  

In Detroit, where the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant’s closure will leave the Motor City with only one auto factory left within its borders, the economic hit – especially to the enclave municipality of Hamtramck – will be severe. Some Michiganders don’t seem too sad to see them go ...

... while some residents are even openly wondering if the neighborhood that was razed in the early 80's to build GM’s facility can now be revived.

In Lordstown, Ohio, home to a facility that currently makes the Chevy Cruze, the community is laying out to keep auto manufacturing in town. Schoolkids are writing letters. Elon Musk (the guy in the middle) is musing about buying the plant. State lawmakers are bending GM CEO Mary Barra’s well-compensated ear (she says she’ll keep an “open mind”), and some federal representatives are at odds with President Trump about whether the company deserves to lose the benefits of tax credits pulled.

All in all, It’s not a good look for General Motors, which took $49.5 billion from the governmentjust a decade ago to avoid bankruptcy, and saved approximately $150 million through its third fiscal quarter off this year's Republican tax cut, to now lay off almost 15,000 American employees.

But, there’s a bit of good news for the company! The ongoing trade negotiations between the Trump administration and the Chinese government have reportedly produced lower Chinese import tariffs on automobiles. That has caused GM’s stock to rise.

Good thing, I guess, that those who own GM stock aren’t being harmed by this, unlike the thousands of American workers who will likely soon be out of work.

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Reposted from AAM

Training Can Reset Outlook for Manufacturing Communities

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, AAM

A recent segment on PBS Newshour explores the implications of automation for workers, particularly the predominately Hispanic population of the Southern California region an hour east of Los Angeles, known as the Inland Empire, where manufacturing and distribution centers dot the landscape.  

In this area, fears that automation will supplant jobs loom large.

Indeed, the prospect of manufacturing job loss should be seen as a threat to the livelihood of not only individual workers, but entire regions, particularly those with communities of color. When family-sustaining manufacturing jobs leave, it is these communities that are often disproportionately impacted by the aftermath though suffering is shared by all workers – all the more reason to fight for infrastructure investment and worker-friendly trade policies.

But there’s more that can be done to help ensure that America’s next generation of workers is ready for the factory of the future.

As we anticipate the integration of robotics into the workplace, we must also support programs that equip workers with advanced manufacturing capabilities. Where these programs are not in place, workers risk missing vital opportunities to build the core skills needed for the factory jobs of the future.

Paul Granillo, president and chief executive officer of Inland Empire Economic Partnership, highlights this concern in an interview for PBS Newshour:

“I think automation is wonderful, and I’m a user of automation. But if it’s only going to be that some regions are going to win and others are going to lose, I do believe that then it does become a moral issue.”

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Embracing a Legacy

Embracing a Legacy

Union Matters

No Money for Pensions, But Plenty for Parties

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Private equity work has been sweet for Marc Leder, the numero uno at Sun Capital Partners. He’s parlayed his takeovers of troubled firms into a fortune big enough to make him a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in basketball and the New Jersey Devils in hockey. New York’s tabloids, meanwhile, have come to dub the hard-partying Leder “the Hugh Hefner of the Hamptons.” The secret to his success? Private-equity firms, notes Center for Economic and Policy Research economist Eileen Appelbaum, plunder assets from the companies they buy, then send them into bankruptcy to sidestep their obligations to workers. Over the past decade alone, Sun Capital has bankrupted five firms and left their pension funds $280 million short. Leder, for his part, claims that the “vast majority” of Sun Capital deals have been successful. And he only parties hearty, the private-equity kingpin adds, 25 nights a year.

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